The Westminster Confession Of Faith. Section I.9
“The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is Scripture itself.” To suggest otherwise is to place another source of authority above that of scripture. Anyone thus interpreting scripture must be able to show that their interpretation is grounded in the comparison of scripture with scripture. This rule is of course based upon the belief that the bible is not just the words of men, but is also the word of God, who cannot contradict himself. “And therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture, (which is not manifold, but one) it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.” Here we have another principle of biblical interpretation. Contrary to the postmodern worldview, there are not many subjective truths to be had from scripture, rather there is but one conception of objective truth. This does not mean that there is only one application, or one implication. It simply means that the truth of scripture is uniformly true truth, and not whatever subjective spin any one might put upon it.
It is this unity of truth that is the standard applied to the question of canonicity. Those books which followed that of Moses and the Pentateuch, were judged by whether they were in harmony with the law already given. The people were given the criterion by which to judge any future prophetic activity and writing (Dt. 13, 18:15-22). This particular paragraph also carries on the thought that even though the scriptures are clear, there are nevertheless those parts which are more difficult to understand than others. In this case, one must go to those parts which deal with the same matters but in a clearer context. “It is precisely because we believe that the Bible is plain that we value the creeds. Hence, the creeds are evidence that the Bible is clear. The creeds represent the consensus of many, who therein testified that they plainly saw the same great truth revealed in the Bible.”1 “It seems undeniable that when there are two or more Scripture passages on the same subject, we should compare them for the light they throw on each other.”2
“The Reformers made it a principle never to establish a doctrine on the basis of a single verse. The question has nothing to do with how many times God must say something to make it true, but, rather how many times must God say something before we can understand it. And the answer to this question is, usually several times.”3 “In some sense, this is a very familiar rule, for we should approach any book in the world in this way. If we are trying to understand any statement by any author we need to read it in context. This is especially true if we encounter trouble in understanding a book. We assume that an author is trying to make sense when we read someone’s book. In fact we see this procedure in the Bible itself, where the writers of inspired Scripture insist on referring to other books in the Bible. We see this again in the first council of Jerusalem, where the apostles and elders compare a battery of Old Testament texts to understand the place of the Gentiles in the early church (Acts 15:15-18).”4
Supplemental scripture: Ps. 119:105; II Tim. 2:15; 3:15-17; II Pet. 1:20-21.
1. (Williamson, 19)
2. (Clark, 23)
3. (Ibid., 24)
4. (Van Dixhoorn, 25-26)